Whanganui National Park, Parinui 4696, New Zealand

This national park is home to the mystical Whanganui River, New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway.

Located in the central North Island, the park was created to protect the upper reaches of the Whanganui River. Once an important transport route for both Maori and early European settlers, the river flows from Tongariro National Park to the Tasman sea through wild lowland forests.

The 290km-long Whanganui River turns on a great paddling adventure. Taumarunui is the starting point for most canoe or kayak safaris; with easy-to-access huts and campsites dotted along the riverbanks. An overnight stay at Tieke Marae is a special highlight. Run by local Maori, the marae is a chance to see local customs in action.

Jet-boating is another way to enjoy this national park. From Pipiriki you can journey up the river to the Bridge To Nowhere, which is all that remains of Mangapurua, an isolated settlement that was abandoned in 1942.

The land surrounding the Whanganui River is remote and rugged and full of the melodies of abundant native birdlife. The small neighbouring towns of Ohinepane and Whakahoro provide further access to hiking and canoeing experiences within the park.

Epic New Zealand Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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